Last Modified on Jun 18, 2014
What is a Cluster Headache?
Well first, what are headaches? They aren't all the same. "Normal" headache symptoms occur when tissues around the brain (not the brain tissue itself) and neck sense pain, often caused by blood vessel dilation that causes irritation. Then you have migraine headaches that only affect some people, present as a pulsing pain on one side of the head and body at a time, and correlated to serotonin levels; and then closely related are tension headaches that are the result of stress, muscle tension, and keeping your shoulder and neck muscles tight and bunched together. Cluster headaches, on the other hand, are bouts of severe pain that may only occur occasionally but will "cluster" in repeated attacks during the symptomatic stages of a cluster headache cycle, lasting typically 6-12 weeks. The symptoms of this condition are sometimes confused with trigeminal neuralgia pain.
Cluster headache symptoms include intense pain on one side of the head. This pain is often focused right behind the eye. Bouts of headache pain may last for a few minutes to about three hours but will recur frequently until the cluster headache cycle goes into remission, possibly for many months. The symptoms of cluster headache somewhat resemble a chronic sinus infection, and sometimes is misdiagnosed as such.
Holistic Treatment for Cluster Headache Pain
In order to break the cluster headache cycle and reduce the pain of a single cluster headache, an holistic approach to nutrition, anti-inflammatory herbal remedies, and brain health is needed. Apple cider vinegar can help reduce inflammation in general throughout the body. Omega 3 fatty acids are good for the same and for general brain health. Cayenne pepper1, melatonin2, and kudzu extract are other alternative remedies with some signs of promise in reducing the frequency or intensity of pain from cluster headaches. Others find relief in acupuncture for cluster headaches.
3Use of complementary and alternative medicine by patients with cluster headache
11/29/2012: Sue M. from Worden, Il, Usa: "My husband has been suffering for 3 to 4 months now with severe sinus headaches. They really don't start on him until after he goes to bed. He has taken a Benadryl before bed and that helps for 3 or 4 hrs. , but after it wears off, the pain wakes him up and he has to get up and take another Benadryl. He's tried a heating pad, elevating his head with a couple of pillows, drinking hot liquids, ACV, eating spicy foods and they help temporarily, but the worse is at night. He wakes up with bags under his eyes and sometimes he's so congested.... Sometimes not. My daughter thought that he possibly had allergies and once we got into cold weather and had several good "frosts" on the ground, his headaches would go away. That's not the case.
I have read all the posts here on EC about sinus issues, but mostly it's contributions about congestion and not the headaches at bedtime. I think he's to the place with hurting that he might listen to me about anything "natural". Lol Any suggestions would be appreciated. "))"Replies
03/28/2013: Greg from Enterprise, Al replies: "He might be having cluster headaches. I have suffered with them for over 30 days with no relief from meds. I finally found that taking magnesium and potassium has helped. The best thing though has been finding a chiropractor that does Atlas Orthogonal Technique. If they are cluster, I feel for him, they are horribly painful, feel like sinus headaches until you realize what they are."
05/17/2013: Kay from Destin, Fl replies: "My boyfriend had those same issues, until I bought him all new bed pillows. I told him we needed to throw away his old 'favorite' bed pillows... He protested vehemently until I showed him a video about dust mites! He nearly freaked out. After doing a few rounds of pillow "tests", his pillows proved without a doubt to be his problem. With his new pillows he's breathing great with no more sinus problems!"
[YEA] 04/21/2011: Josh from Houston, Tx: "Just to let you guys know, oxygen therapy works. It will take a cluster headache away in 10 minutes. I suffered for 7 years untill I found this. There are too many dangerous maint. drugs to take. So if you can abort them with oxygen its a win win.
[YEA] 05/30/2011: Jordan from Sparwood, Bc, Canada replies: "Try not to confuse trigeminal neuralgia with cluster headaches. Trigeminal headaches are caused by intracranial pressure on the trigeminal nerve, sending the sensations to the face. Clusters are caused by the brain being tricked into thinking that it isn't getting enough oxygen, so the blood vessels dialate and the brain too much oxygen. Oxygen therapy helps clusters by giving the brain too much oxygen and making the vessels contract again. Talk to a local neurologist that specializes in headaches to get a proper diagnosis."
[BETTER BUT NOT CURED] 03/22/2011: Cgoetz435 from Dublin, Ca: "I suffer from cluster headaches. My primary symptom began on my right side and felt like someone was trying "to pull my upper and lower teeth out with pliers. " I went to several neurologists who diagnosed trigeminal neuralgia. They stated "cluster headaches are a male disease" and I am female. Eventually got a correct diagnosis of cluster headaches.
Unfortunately, it's several years later, and I still have tremendous problems with pain. Oxygen therapy is helpful. I take daily meds and at this point, I'm using Sumatriptan injections almost daily. It's imperative that you get an accurate diagnosis. I saw a dentist, a endodontist, 3 neurologists, before getting correct diagnosis. I am currently investigating deep tissue laser therapy for relief. Hope this helps."
[YEA] 05/20/2005: Robert Gilberty Frie : "May 2004: I am now Fifty (50) years old. (Date of Birth: 12-February-1954) My crisis with: Migraine Headache, Pretrigeminal Neuralgia, Cluster Headache, Coughing Headache or Trigeminal Neuralgia depending upon which physician you ask, now seems but an unfortunate memory. I now can't remember when I had my last "Head Pain" and that is not because I have a waning memory. I am now able to take Ballroom Dance lessons up to Fifteen (15) hours a week, and have been doing so for the last Two (2) years. And according to several of my dance instructors, I have exceptional energy and stamina while doing Cha Cha and Salsa dancing. This year (March & April 2004) I have already completed Four (4) foreign military parachute jumps while in Cambodia and in Thailand. Two (2) of the parachute jumps in Thailand were into the ocean. It is my hope and desire that this report helps others as it has helped me to go on to living a happy and productive life. I still continue to practice all the recommendations set forth in this report. Hey! Have a nice day!
May 2003 As of this date, I am gratified to report further progressive improvement in the Remyelinization of my Fifth Cranial Nerve. I have continued to practice all Twelve (12) recommendations listed below. At this juncture in time, I have only occasionally experienced trace residual symptoms of Trigeminal Neuralgia / Cluster Headache. I have not experienced any facial numbness or abnormalities of any kind, with fully active and normal cutaneous & subcutaneous sensory activity.
September 2002 I am very pleased to report that through extremely painful and relentless experimentation on myself since 1998, I am almost 100% pain free nearly 100% of the time, 365 days a year with infrequent slight momentary dull residual discomfort of my Trigeminal Neuralgia / Cluster Headache ordeal. My Fifth Cranial Nerve damage was extensive but limited to the Right Cranial Hemisphere of the Ophthalmic (V1) and Maxillary (V2) branches of the Trigeminal Nerve, which is well documented in my Daily Report Log. It is very unfortunate that the Health Care Professionals, Seventeen (17) at last count, could never render a diagnosis past telling me that my "Head Pain" was merely "Psychosomatic" or that: "You need to learn how to live with the pain," or that I needed Gamma Knife Surgery. Now the Medical Professionals are saying that I never had Trigeminal Neuralgia/ Cluster Headache or that my long awaited miraculous recovery was merely a case of "Spontaneous Remission," and had nothing to do with my experimental Remyelinization therapy. Read my Daily Report Log and draw your own conclusions.
Below you will read my recommendations on enabling the Trigeminal Nerve to begin the Remyelinization process of regenerating and healing the Myelin Sheath surrounding the branches of the Fifth Cranial Nerve. After years of experimenting on myself, I now feel that at least in my case, this ended up being the best course of action. I describe my own course of self-treatment here for the edification of those who might be interested. A word to the wise"
1. Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Diet: As many raw uncooked and unprocessed natural foods as possible. Sweet Peas (Spit Pea Soup) should be of special interest because when used in conjunction with MSM Crystals, as in my case, somewhere between Four (4) to Six (6) days, I experience rapid/accelerated fingernail growth. The body metabolizes more readily unprocessed foods effectively. Seafood appears not to have any adverse or impeding factors in the Remyelinization process. Refrain from eating meat products since they seem to inhibit the Remyelinization process (Fatty meats especially). Personally, I am an omnivore by nature.
2. Yeast: Any dry, Super Rich yeast will do. One (1) to Two (2) tablespoons per day. The "B" Vitamins in yeast appear to be beneficial in the Remyelinization process. Can be mixed with natural juice in a blender or capsulate your own. Mfg: Twinlab /Twin Laboratories Inc.: Super Rich Yeast Plus. 150 Motor Parkway, Suite 210, Hauppage, NY, 11788, USA Tel: 631-467-3140 Web: www.twinlab.com Available at any Health Food Store. Side Effects: None
3. MSM, (Methylsulfonylmethane): A Non-Steriodal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAIDS). 1000mg to 4000mg capsulated crystals per day. Best method 1000mg Four (4) times a day. Morning (Breakfast), Noon (Dinner/Lunch), Late Afternoon (Supper Time) and before retiring (Bed Time) in the evening. It has been my personal observation that MSM does not stay resident & active in the body for any length of time. Taking MSM Crystals Four (4) a day seems to indicate greater rapid improvement in the Remyelinization process. (Note: MSM tablets are not as effective as gelatin capsulated crystals and not recommended) Source: Health Food Stores, Farm Animal Horse Feed Stores. Purchase empty Number Single "0", Double "00", or Triple "000" Aught gelatin capsules at a Health Food Store and load the capsules on your own. Side Effects: Rapid Hair and Fingernail growth. Sometimes effective in reducing or eradicating Rheumatoid Arthritis inflammation. I have taken 26,000mg per day for over a year with no evidence of any adverse reaction.
4. Glucosamine Sulfate: 1000mg capsulated crystals per day. Capsulated crystals are recommended. Available at Health Food Stores. Crystals alone can be purchased from Farm Animal Horse Feed Stores. Purchase empty Number Single "0", Double "00", or Triple "000" Aught gelatin capsules at a Health Food Store and load the capsules on your own. Side Effects: None. I have taken 3,000mg per day for over a year with no evidence of any adverse reaction.
5. Chondroitin Sulfate: 1000mg capsulated crystals per day. Available at Health Food Stores. Crystals are available at Farm Animal Horse Feed Stores. Purchase empty Number Single "0", Double "00", or Triple "000" Aught gelatin capsules at a Health Food Store and load the capsules on your own. Side Effects: None. I have taken 3,000mg per day for over a year with no evidence of any adverse reaction.
6. Omega 3Flax Oil: 6000mg capsules per day. Mfg: Spectrum Naturals, Inc., Petaluma, CA 94952, USA. Tel: 800-995-2705, Web: www.spectrumnaturals.com Available at Health Food Stores. Side Effects: None
7. Wheat Germ Oil: One (1) tablespoon per day. Rich in Vitamin "E". Mfg: Viobin U.S.A., Monticello, IL 61856, USA. Web: www.researchprod.com Available at Health Food Stores. Side Effects: None
8. Folic Acid Powder: 1000mg-5000mg capsulated per day. Vitamin B-9. Mfg: Life Extension Foundation Buyers Club, Inc., P.O. Box 229120, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33022-9909 USA. Tel: 800-544-4440, Fax: 954-761-9199. Web: www.lef.com Purchase empty Number Single "0", Double "00", or Triple "000" Aught gelatin capsules at a Health Food Store and load the capsules on your own. Side Effects: None.
9. B-1, B-6, B-12 Pharmaceutical Injectables: Using a 3ml syringe. 2.5ml of "B" Complex and .5ml of DMSO. B-12 Injectable alone with DMSO works very well. Allow to stand combined in syringe for Four (4) to Six (6) hours before injecting into different localized fatty tissue / deep subcutaneous locations every other day. (In my case: Rt. Buttock, Rt. Flank, Rt. Side of Stomach, Lt. Side of Stomach, Lt. Flank, Lt. Buttock). Side Effects: When used in conjunction with MSM & DMSO can cause scalp and hair to appear to become oily. There is a question about "B" Complexes causing Hypervitaminosis / Sensory Nerve Impairment if administered in large doses chronically over several years. Cf.
Vitamin B1/6/12 might help This response submitted by Karin, Switzerland on 9/4/96. Author's Email: -
Peripheral neuropathy is sometimes caused by a lack of Vitamin B. Maybe your husband did not care about his intake of Vitamin B for years. Alcohol or some pills (e.g. Tegretol) may be responsible for a Vitamin B neuropathy.
Even if Vitamin B levels are normal in a blood test, this does not mean that a severe lack of Vitamin B could not have caused the neuropathy long before, and the nervous system seems to need enormous amounts of Vitamin B to recover from the damage (Remyelinization, that is filling up the gaps in the sheaths of the nerves).
I successfully treated somebody with a disabling neuropathy with injections (every 2 weeks) of a mixture of Vitamins B1, B6 & B12 (Neurorubin Streuli, Swiss trademark) for a year, and symptoms disappeared almost completely apart from a feeling of stiff ankles in the morning. Naturally one could take vitamin pills, but sometimes even the intestinal absorption of vitamins is disturbed by the lack of Vitamin B, and then one has to start with injections, but TAKE CARE TO AVOID HYPERVITAMINOSIS (pause the treatment from time to time). If the neuropathy of your husband is accompanied by pain, injections of Vitamin B can make them disappear immediately (2-3 injections/week). This is a very common problem, but most doctors rely too much lab-values of Vitamin B and hesitate to start a vitamin therapy even if the symptoms are typical.
Sensory peripheral neuropathy of vitamin B12 deficiency: a primary demyelinating disease? Steiner I, Kidron D, Soffer D, Wirguin I, Abramsky O.
Department of Neurology, Hadassah University Hospital, Jerusalem, Israel. J Neurol 1988 Jan;235(3):163-4
In five patients with peripheral neuropathy due to Vitamin B12 deficiency, electrodiagnostic studies demonstrated severe reduction in sensory nerve conduction velocities compatible with a demyelinating disorder affecting sensory nerve fibres. It is suggested that in some patients lack of Vitamin B12 may cause primary sensory demyelinating neuropathy.
Phttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=2835439&dopt=AbstractMID: 2835439 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
10. Hyaluronic Acid, (HA) Hyaluronan: Restores the elasticity / plasticity to the Myelin Sheath. Cf. "Ultimate H.A. Formula" (cockscomb extract tablets) Mfg: Purity Products, 139 Haven Ave., Port Washington, NY 11050, USA. Tel: 800-769-7873, Fax: 516-767-1722. Web: www.purityproducts.com/product.asp?sku=134 Video Tape Mfg: ABC News: 02-Nov-2000 Primetime Live, "Fountain of Youth" Program Number: P001102-03 ABC News Video Services: http://abcnews.go.com/onair/2020/PRIMETIME_japanyouth_001102_feature.html 8000 E. Ronda Drive, Canton, MI 48187, USA. Tel: 800-505-6139 (It is advisable to take a maximum daily dose, short of incurring facial skin acne) In my particular case, I elected to produce my own personal supply of HA by processing poultry connective tissue in the same manner that pharmaceutical manufactures produce commercial grade HA. I accomplished this by washing, rinsing, dehydrating, grinding and the capsulation of the connective tissue. It was my desire to achieve the maximum possible strength of HA to be taken orally. I found that my "Home Processed" method produced very favorable results. Side Effects: If acne starts to occur, reduce daily dosage and use Benzyl Peroxide 5% to clear up condition. Resume use with smaller daily dosages. Cf. (Oil Absorbing) "Acne Mask" Mfg: Neutrogena Corporation, USA.
11. DMSO, (Dimethylsulfoxide): Liquid 99.9% pure. Topical Application: DMSO when directly applied cutaneously will permeate the Ophthalmic (V1) side of the forehead and scalp area. This procedure can be done once every other day. Atomized Application: Using a nasal atomizer (fine mist spray applicator) spray once up both nostrils every other day. This will be painful and only necessary if damage has occurred to the Ophthalmic (V1) and Maxillary (V2) branches of the Trigeminal Nerve. DMSO Injections: Undiluted or Unmixed injections of DMSO is not recommended and should be avoided. The stinging localized pain factor is extremely high. DMSO combined with "B" Complex injectables will allow your body to absorb and metabolize continuous large doses of "B" Complex, far more readily than would be possible with injections of "B" Complex alone. DMSO is available at Health Food Stores and Farm Animal Horse Feed Stores. Side Effects: Rapid Hair and Fingernail growth. Sometimes effective in reducing or eradicating Rheumatoid Arthritis inflammation.
12. Steam & Sauna Bath: Daily, promotes highly increased blood circulation to the head and extremities. If the Steam or Sauna precipitates / triggers a Trigeminal / Cluster Headache, suspend this therapy until a later time when the Remyelinization process has normalized most of the Fifth Cranial Nerve Branch hypersensitivity. As of this report date I have not triggered or experienced a Trigeminal / Cluster Headache taking daily Steam Baths at 135"F / 57"C and Sauna Baths at 235"F / 113"C for well over the last Three (3) years
Prednisone falls into the family of Corticosteroids known as Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDS) that are used in inflammatory cutaneous & subcutaneous conditions such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome for their anti-inflammatory properties. The chronic use of Prednisone in treating Trigeminal Neuralgia / Cluster Headache depletes the Calcium from the bone marrow and thus increasing the susceptibility to Osteoporosis.
One of the most immediate common side effects of Prednisone use is Heartburn. It is highly advisable that when taking Prednisone in the Remyelinization process, that one ingests at least Two (2) tablets of Calcium at least Four (4) times a day for every Twenty-Four (24) hour period. This is about the only precautionary defense that I am aware of in counteracting progressive Osteoporosis & Heartburn while taking Prednisone.
Prednisone has been used very effectively as a physician prescribed "Symptom Suppressor / Inhibitor" for temporary short-term pain relief in Trigeminal Neuralgia / Cluster Headache. The efficaciousness is highly reliant on the extent of Demyelinization to any of the branches of the Trigeminal Nerve. Physicians have been prescribing between 60-80mg per day, not to exceed Fourteen (14) days in any One-time interval for short-term pain relief only. In my case while taking Prednisone 20mg tablets Four (4) times a day stopped the Ophthalmic (V1) & Maxillary (V2) inflammation / damage pain entirely. As I have previously stated, Prednisone used in this application is to be strictly considered as a SYMPTOM SUPPRESSOR only! My pain relief was short lived and within a few days after terminating the Fourteen (14) day use period, the reoccurrence of my forehead / facial pain relapsed almost in its entirety. Because my pain levels were so high and relentless, I treated myself again with Prednisone on several occasions over a Six (6) month period to afford myself some pain relief and semblance of sanity, well aware that Prednisone is a major contributor of Osteoporosis, and that I was potentially setting myself up for other negative properties associated with Prednisone use.
Empirically speaking, it has been my observation that Prednisone acts as an accelerant in restoring the Myelin Sheath to some form of normalcy when used in conjunction with MSM, B-1, B-6, & B-12 Injectables. The high doses previously physician prescribed do not seem to be required to achieve the rapid & lasting restoration / rejuvenation of the Myelin Sheath. I was able to acquire very favorable results at 20mg per day, not exceeding a Fourteen (14) day period. Most often, I would discontinue usage after Seven (7) days experiencing that I had enough Prednisone in my system, and had met my tolerance level. At this point in the Remyelinization process I would not again go back on Prednisone for Three (3) to Four (4) months before repeating the cycle. My continuous use of MSM has been indefinite. The use of "B" Complex Injectables has been more or less a discretionary "On & Off" approach. It was through this cyclic procedure that I was able to determine if the Prednisone combination was producing any distinguishable lasting efficacy. Again in my case there has been a continual marked improvement, which has not diminished to this date""Replies
11/15/2009: Faranak from Toronto, Ontario, Canada replies: "Hello, I would like to get in touch with Mr. Robert Gilbert Frie the author of the aritcle ' Remylinization in retrospect' and how he has cured his Trigeminal Neurlagia and Cluster Migraine.
I would really appreciate, if you could give me his contact info. I have been diagbosed with Atypical Facial Neuralgia. I have some questions as I would like to try his recommeneded course of treatment.
05/01/2013: Christina from Sammamish, Washington replies: "Thank you for the input on prednisone. When you went on 20 for 14 days, did you taper it or just come off it?"
07/12/2013: Andrea C from Cardiff, Wales replies: "You have to taper off prednisolone, as it shuts down the brains own steroid production. And its also dangerous to abruptly stop a high dose, depending on how long you've been on them. Love Andrea c xxxxx"